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MacArthur Fellows Program

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MacArthur Fellows Program


The MacArthur Fellows Program, also known as the MacArthur Fellowship and commonly but unofficially known as the "Genius Grant", is a prize awarded annually by the John D. and Catherine T. Foundation typically to between 20 and 30 individuals, working in any field, who have shown "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction" and are citizens or residents of the United States.[1]

According to the foundation's website, "the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential," but it also says such potential is "based on a track record of significant accomplishments." The current prize is $800,000 paid over five years in quarterly installments. Previously it was $625,000. This figure was increased from $500,000 in 2013 with the release of a review[2] of the MacArthur Fellows Program.

Since 1981, 1,111 people have been named MacArthur Fellows,[3] ranging in age from 18 to 82.[4] The award has been called "one of the most significant awards that is truly 'no strings attached'".[5]

The program does not accept applications. Anonymous and confidential nominations are invited by the foundation and reviewed by an anonymous and confidential selection committee of about a dozen people. The committee reviews all nominees and recommends recipients to the president and board of directors. Most new fellows first learn of their nomination and award upon receiving a congratulatory phone call. MacArthur Fellow Jim Collins described this experience in an editorial column of The New York Times.[6]

Cecilia Conrad is the managing director leading the MacArthur Fellows Program.[7]


See for a list of recipients.